United arrives in Ghana, new daily South Africa flight launches soon

May 17, 2021

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United just added another popular African city to its long-haul route map!

On Friday, the carrier began year-round service between Washington, D.C. (IAD) and Accra, Ghana (ACC). United 996 departs IAD at 6:15 p.m. on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, returning at 11:45 p.m. as United 997 the following day.

It’s the first of two routes the airline plans to launch this spring to fill a gap left by South African Airways, which has long struggled to turn a profit and was forced to begin scaling back its global operations even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

United vice president of international network planning and alliances Patrick Quayle was among the passengers on Friday’s first flight to ACC, which was operated by a 787-8 Dreamliner with 28 Polaris business seats, 21 Premium Plus seats, 36 in Economy Plus and 158 seats in coach.

Polaris passengers received special ACC pajamas, as modeled by United’s Patrick Quayle. (Photo courtesy of United)

The aircraft was met with a ceremonial water cannon salute after touching down just after 8:00 a.m. on Saturday morning in Ghana.

United’s 787-9 received a water cannon salute upon arrival at ACC. (Photo courtesy of United)

On June 3, United is scheduled to begin daily service between Newark (EWR) and Johannesburg (JNB), its second nonstop flight to South Africa from the New York City area. United began seasonal service to Cape Town (CPT) in December 2019 — as of now, that flight is scheduled to return on Oct. 31, 2021.

United’s Accra and Johannesburg flights are both guaranteed to be operated by the carrier’s updated 787 Dreamliners, offering extra-private Polaris business-class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, along with dedicated Premium Plus cabins.

United’s Polaris business cabin on the 787-9. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

While South African’s exit is likely a disappointment to some, United acted quickly to help bridge a gap in service, offering a superior product, to boot.

United’s business class represents a step up, even compared with South African’s very best product, pictured here. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

There’s more to come on the Africa front as well, with another IAD flight expected to begin later this year. United is scheduled to fly between Washington, D.C. and Lagos, Nigeria (LOS) sometime in 2021, though the airline has yet to begin selling seats, or confirm a launch date.

Featured photo courtesy of United Airlines

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